The results of the negotiations in a nutshell
At the beginning of the negotiations, the same picture emerged as in the second round: none of the representatives of the SPD, the Greens or the CDU in the TdL wanted to remember the coalition promises on a TVStud – even at the cost of leaving student employees in their precarious working conditions. In the course of the negotiations, the TdL even tried to play off different groups of employees against each other and to offset the wage increases for all employees against other expectations. Our response to this was trade union solidarity: in the end, this result was achieved against total blockades and attempts at division. Even if it does not fully meet our expectations, it is a result that paves the way
for a TVStud and contains some first concrete improvements.
What does the collective agreement mean for us? What does this agreement mean for student employees?
For the first time we have an agreement between the unions and the TdL that regulates the working conditions of student employees. However, unlike a collective agreement, students cannot sue for their rights. Breaking the rules, however, is a breach of contract. Compliance with the agreement can be enforced by the trade unions. This is a step forward from the unilateral guidelines of the TdL.
The introduction of a general contract duration of one year is a significant improvement. The average duration of student employment contracts is currently only six months. Many students have even shorter contracts.
In its guidelines, the TdL used to distinguish between maximum wages in the East and West and between student assistants without a degree and academic assistants with a bachelor’s or master’s degree. In recent years, the maximum wages for student assistants have been below or just above the minimum wage level.
Now, for the first time, minimum hourly wages have been set, without the previous distinction between East and West. For the time being, these only apply to student workers without a degree, i.e. the group with the lowest wages. Previously, the TdL guideline for SHK employees with a bachelor›s degree provided for an increase of around 1.50 to 2.00 euros per hour. It can be assumed that the federal states will initially maintain the distinction betwee wage brackets and continue to pay employees with a degree more. In any case, the new regulation of minimum wages offers the possibility to pay higher wages locally.
The outcome of the negotiations ensures that ver.di (also for GEW) will be in a position to negotiate our working conditions again in the next round of collective bargaining. In order to fight for higher wages and regulate further working conditions next time, we need to significantly increase our strike power and the level of organisation in the unions.
What’s next and what are the next steps?
The improvements are the result of our struggle since 2019, and the impressive strike movement of recent months. We were heavily involved in the unique nationwide wave of strikes at over 80 universities and colleges.
One thing is clear: our fight goes on! We have won the one-year minimum contract – this can stabilise our movement by securing our long-term participation and protecting us from sanctions, e.g. due to strike action. Now we need to work with staff representatives and unions to insist on implementation and compliance. We must now stand up for our demands for student staff representation and actively shape the work of staff councils in our local initiatives.
The agreement gives us the promise that our working conditions will be negotiated again in the next round of collective bargaining. The condition for this is that we continue to organise and build strong union structures at universities and colleges. We have shown in this bargaining round that we can fight. Bring on the collective agreement!